According to a new report, the Ministry of Finance in Russia is now questioning its own ‘bitcoin ban bill’, which is currently a draft.
Alexei Moiseev, the Russian Deputy Minister of Finance has now claimed that the Ministry won’t be pressing for a direct ban of bitcoin, contrary to the agenda previously set by the regulatory authority.
In what is clearly a change of stance, the deputy minister has stated that the bill – introduced by the Ministry to the Russian State Duma, pressing for a ban of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies – will now be amended following a series of meetings with experts in the future.
In comments reported by TASS, Russia’s largest news agency, Moiseev stated:
The bitcoin bill is already ready, but we won’t be rushing it, and will most likely change [the bill] along the way. Now, I’m going to hold to hold a series of meetings with experts and once again think about what we need to do.
Most notably, he added:
Perhaps, in the view of the development of technology, a frontal ban [of bitcoin] will not do very well.
The Finance Ministry has repeatedly made efforts to implement a ban on bitcoin. Among other proposals, the regulatory authority has even proposed the use of bitcoin as a criminal offense. The proposed verdict for the criminal act? Up to 7 years in prison, along with significant fines.
Critiquing a Bitcoin Ban
The bill has previously seen delays due to criticism, from reviewers and other administrative bodies alike. In April 2016, reports of the first delay to the bill and its introduction to the State Duma – the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament – surfaced, with a multitude of comments and revisions suggested by reviewers critiquing the early draft. At the time, Moiseev revealed that the bill wasn’t progressing as rapidly as the Ministry expected it to, while insisting that the bill would be refined in light of the criticisms.
The following month in May, the Ministry of Justice and the Interior Ministry of Russia, had both questioned the “public danger” that bitcoin bought, as cited by the Ministry of Finance, in its bill.
A report citing a source within the Ministry of Justice revealed:
The Ministry [of Justice] believes that there is a need to further study the introduction of criminal liability for individuals and administrative bodies over the issuance and sale of money substitutes since the degree of public danger of the act “is questionable.”
The Terror Rap
Still, Moiseev sought to highlight bitcoin’s supposed prevalence in illegal transactions and money laundering, citing “official European sources” which would be more widely reported if they were true.
“We need to limit the freedom that thieves have while using bitcoins in relation to money laundering and illegal transactions,” Moiseev stated, before adding:
We see from official European sources that, according to their data, 80% of all suspicious transactions related to racketeering, money laundering and so on – happen through Bitcoin. Naturally, we cannot forget about the financing of terrorism that stems from this.
The Central Bank’s Role
The bill will continue to uphold the Russian Finance Ministry’s views that the Central Bank of the Russian Federation should remain the sole issuer of money in the country.
Article 75 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation reads:
The monetary unit of the Russian Federation is the ruble. The Central Bank of the Russian Federation is the sole issuer of currency. The introduction and issuance of other currencies in the Russian Federation are prohibited.
In adding to his above comments, Moiseev said:
We must ensure that the Central Bank remains as the only emission center [of money]. In principle, everything else [ that isn’t subject to restrictions], please do what you want. [But] how do we write this in law? For now, I’m not sure that was is written [in the draft] is what we actually think. We will be thinking [about the bill] again and will communicate with experts more actively.
Disclaimer: Translations are unofficial.
Featured image from Shutterstock.